Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East

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Bernard Lewis is recognized around the globe as one of the leading authorities on Islam. Hailed as "the world's foremost Islamic scholar" (Wall Street Journal ), as "a towering figure among experts on the culture and religion of the Muslim world" (Baltimore Sun ), and as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies" (New York Times ), Lewis is nothing less than a national treasure, a trusted voice that politicians, journalists, historians, and the general public have all turned to for insight into the Middle East.

Now, Lewis has brought together writings on religion and government in the Middle East, so different than in the Western world. The collection includes previously unpublished writings, English originals of articles published before only in foreign languages, and an introduction to the book by Lewis.

Acclaim for What Went Wrong?

A New York Times Bestseller

"Replete with the exceptional historical insight that one has come to expect from the world's foremost Islamic scholar."
—Karen Elliott House, Wall Street Journal

Lewis has done us all—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—a remarkable service.... The book's great strength, and its claim upon our attention, [is that] it offers a long view in the midst of so much short-term and confusing punditry on television, in the op-ed pages, on campuses and in strategic studies think tanks."
—Paul Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review

Acclaim for From Babel to Dragomans

"Lewis has long been considered the West's leading interpreter of Mideast culture and history, and this collection only solidifies his reputation."—National Review

"For more than four decades, Lewis has been one of the most respected scholars and prolific writers on the history and politics of the Middle East. In this compilation of more than 50 journal articles and essays, he displays the full range of his eloquence, knowledge, and insight regarding this pivotal and volatile region."—Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Well-known Middle East historian and analyst Lewis collects essays and speeches in his latest book, rather incoherently organized around the titular theme of “faith and power.” Since the text lacks footnotes, the reader may wonder if Lewis is presenting historical fact or his own opinions, weighted toward a dark view of Islam, which could explain his appeal to neoconservatives. His assertions, for instance, that early Muslims had no respect for or understanding of Christianity and that Muhammad “conquered” Mecca run contrary to what many other scholars, as well as practicing Muslims, write and believe. His understanding of the Qur’an is shallow; he criticizes the Muslim term khalifa, meaning caliph or leader, as showing Muslim ambition because of the term’s vagueness, but the Qur’an specifically cites the term khalifa in a well-known verse enjoining Muslims to be the vice-regents or “khalifas” of God on Earth. In his chapter analyzing Osama bin Ladin’s fatwa against the United States, he fails to mention that fatwas are not binding on Muslims, misleading the reader into believing that Muslims, on the whole, abide by them. His obstinately Eurocentric view has him criticizing Muslims for all manner of far-flung vices, such as failing to learn European languages and music. Readers looking to learn more about Islam and the Middle East should seek a less rigid text. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195144215
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/5/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,530,629
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His most recent books include From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, and What Went Wrong?, two of which were national bestsellers.

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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 31, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of London, 1936; Diplome des Etudes Semitiques, University of Paris, 1937; Ph.D., University of London,

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 License to kill : Osama bin Laden's declaration of jihad 1

Ch. 2 Europe and Islam 10

Ch. 3 Religion and politics in Islam and Judaism 39

Ch. 4 Islam and liberal democracy 55

Ch. 5 Free at last? : the Arab world in the twenty-first century 75

Ch. 6 Gender and the clash of civilizations 89

Ch. 7 Democracy and religion in the Middle East 109

Ch. 8 Peace and freedom in the Middle East 126

Ch. 9 Democracy, legitimacy, and succession in the Middle East 131

Ch. 10 The relevance of history : transcript : organization of the Islamic Conference, European Union, France 153

Ch. 11 Freedom and justice in Islam 158

Ch. 12 Europe and Islam 169

Ch. 13 Freedom and justice in the modern Middle East 191

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